The Western Bulldogs appear to be in the box seat to secure the services of Tayla Harris, after reports by various NewsCorp outlets that the superstar Lions forward wants to make the move to Victoria.
The 20-year-old, who stole the footy spotlight with her spectacular mark during the 2014 AFL Women’s Exhibition Match, was spotted in Melbourne a month ago at the St Kilda Sharks versus VU Western Spurs VFLW practice match at the Peanut Farm Reserve.
Since that trip, Harris has returned to Queensland to focus on her other sporting passion, boxing, with a bout reportedly scheduled for the middle of the year.
In a recent video and article on the Fox Sports website, Collingwood footballer Kate Sheahan claimed that Carlton was in the hot seat to get Harris, but should the Lions not get what they want at the trade table, the Queenslander would go into the draft and would be hoping to be picked up by a Melbourne club.
However, due to the semi-professional nature of the AFL Women’s competition, should the Lions forward turn down a marquee contract offer from her current club and declare she wants to move to Melbourne, she would be a 100% guarantee of being picked up by a Victorian side.
Under the new AFLW trade rules, Harris would be first shopped around to the four Victorian clubs, with the Lions looking for at least two good footballers in exchange.
Those players would need to agree to a move to Queensland for the deal to be valid.
The offer of draft picks would be almost useless to the Lions as they have exclusive access to the Queensland draft pool.
However, should two or more Victorian teams join in the trade, only then would those picks be of value.
Unlike the men’s AFL draft which is truly national and players could end up anywhere, should the Lions fail to get a trade deal done, Harris would go into the Victorian pool of the draft, where the Western Bulldogs have the first pick of the Victorian clubs.
Although trading of draft picks between the four Victorian sides might be of some value, there is no way the Western Bulldogs are giving up the first Victorian pick (pick three overall).
The injury early in the season to captain Katie Brennan exposed a weak Bulldogs forward line, and the recruiters will have the signing of another key forward at the top of their ‘to do list’.
If Harris doesn’t get traded, the Bulldogs swoop in with their first pick and get her without having to trade a single player.
Should either Carlton, Collingwood or Melbourne by some miracle work a trade with the Lions, the Bulldogs’ back-up plan is to take another young key forward with the first pick, TAC Cup Girls joint best and fairest winner Chloe Molloy of the Calder Cannons (and Diamond Creek).
Molloy kicked 20 goals in five games during the short TAC Cup season earlier this year.
Another advantage the Bulldogs have over their Victorian opponents is they currently have three former Queenslanders on their list: Aasta O’Connor, Tiarna Ernst and captain Katie Brennan.
Should any one of that tall trio get homesick, the Doggies have a near perfect swap for the Lions and would be able to trade, all while retaining pick one, which they could then either take Molloy as well, or pick up classy midfielder Isabel Huntington.
In any scenario, the Bulldogs are in the hot seat and cannot lose should they elect to trade or not.
The key question now for the Blues, Magpies and Demons is can they either on their own or collectively arrange two or more part-time female footballers to move to Queensland, so one of them can gain the services of Tayla Harris?
It seems unlikely, so either the Lions marquee stays put, or she’s packing her bags for Whitten Oval.
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